Former House President Demetris Syllouris and former Akel MP Christakis Giovanis pleaded not guilty to five charges read out to them at Nicosia criminal court on Friday. The charges stem from corruption allegations following an Al Jazeera documentary on Cyprus’ controversial citizen-by-investment scheme.

Currently, Syllouris, Giovanis and senior member of staff at the Giovanis Group, Antonis Antoniou, are facing a trial related to the findings of the Nicolatos report, which was carried out after the Al Jazeera documentary.

Antoniou who is currently abroad, will make his plea before the court on January 18 at 9.30am.

He is now being represented by lawyer Andreas Pittadjis – who was initially also on trial with the other three defendants.

In October, all charges against Pittadjis were dropped, and he transitioned from being a defendant to becoming Antoniou’s lawyer.

During Friday’s hearing, the court also rejected objections put forth by Giovanis’ lawyer George Papaioannou, who argued that the charges were not soundly based on any existing law.

The presiding judge said it was unnecessary for a ruling to be issued on the constitutionality of the charges, with Papaioannou later expressing his disagreement and telling the court he reserved the right to bring up the matter at a later stage of the proceedings.

Syllouris’ lawyer Chris Triantafyllides also agreed with Papaioannou, saying he too may raise an objection in due course.

Pittadjis and Triantafyllides informed the court they would be submitting a written request to the attorney-general asking for the release of witness material and transcripts used in the preparation of the Nicolatos report.

The Al Jazeera documentary caught high ranking officials including Syllouris and Giovanis on camera agreeing to give a Chinese investor nationality even though he was supposedly a criminal.